Every revival movement in history has involved repentance.
But it's not only important during times of widespread revival -- we each need to repent in order to experience PERSONAL revival!
Malachi 3:7 tells us "Return to me, and I will return to you."
Is God calling to us right now? Now is the time to respond.
There's an old saying, and I believe a song, too, that says "Lord, send revival, and let it begin with me!"
The Psalmist has something to tell us here:
Revival truly begins with us, the believers, God's people -- and the prophet Isaiah gives us an inspiring example:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Almighty.”Revival truly begins on a personal level: with our sense of our own sin, with our repentance, and with God's mercy in forgiving our sins. Then, when we are walking with the Lord, He can use us to touch other peoples' lives.
But what are we PERSONALLY repenting of? Let's look at what our Savior says are the problems with the church. What does He point out about the body of believers?
In Revelation, He speaks to several churches; the church at Ephesus came first:
In these verses, we see that we need to repent if we have an unenthusiastic, loveless relationship with the Lord. Do we keep everything formal? Are we scared to crack a smile or utter an "Amen" or a "Praise the Lord!" Are we working hard for God, but focused more on the work than on our loving Father?
(Matthew 22:37-38)Are our days focused on works, or on our love for God? If we are not "love-centered" then we need to repent and ask the Spirit to restore the joy of our salvation and our joyful love for Him. (Incidentally, that last verse (6) commends the Christians in Ephesus for something they did correctly, but the next group fell for . . . )
Next, Jesus spoke to the church at Smyrna, and then Pergamum:
The Nicolaitans were a sect that believed in a very exaggerated doctrine of Christian liberty. They led lives of absolute indulgence. They held that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication - in defiance of the decree of the church laid down in Acts 15. The leaders and teachers of the New Testament church branded them with a name that they felt expressed their true character: they called them followers of Balaam (II Peter 2, Jude 1).
The scholars tell us that in a time of persecution, when the eating (or not eating) of food sacrificed to idols was a crucial test of faithfulness, they persuaded men and women that it was of no consequence. Even more evil was their practice of mingling in the orgies of idolatrous feasts and mixing these into the meetings of the Christian church.
What does all this mean to us?
We may need to repent of holding bad teaching. We need to be careful of what and how we hear - truly examine the doctrines of the teachers that we listen to -- compare what they say with the scriptures. We base much of what we believe on what teaching we receive, so we must be particular about the teachers we listen to!
Secondly, we may need to repent of sexual immorality. Even if we are not committing sexual sin with our bodies, we may be sinning with our minds and our eyes. How about the movies and television that we watch? What kind of jokes do we tell or listen to? Do we dress modestly? Do we ignore sexual sin in others? If we are guilty, Jesus is telling us to repent.
We'll examine more of Revelation tomorrow . . .